We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: one of the key challenges eCommerce companies face is successfully standing out from the crowd. Shoppers have a wealth of options when it comes to buying online, and they’re not afraid to take the time to research and compare. Merchants need to take the time to position themselves as unique to the customer, from a stylish, eye-catching landing page to clever product descriptions.
Another way to stand out is through the effective use of content marketing. Content marketing has steadily been on the rise in recent years; as of October 2013, 90% of B2C marketers are using content marketing, according to research from MarketingProfs and Content Marketing Institute. Moreover, 60% of marketers reported plans to increase their content marketing budget over the next year, highlighting the emerging importance of engaging consumers through content.
For eCommerce merchants with smaller operations and tighter budgets, this might not seem easily feasible. And it’s true: coming up with ideas for, developing, and distributing content takes work. Many businesses feel that they don’t have the time or resources to churn out new content on a regular basis. Before you give up on this particular tactic, though, don’t worry – smart strategizing before you start creating content can save you time while providing just as effective results. Here’s how:
Build your foundation
It comes down to this: while good, thought-provoking ideas should be at the core of any content marketing strategy, you don’t have to generate them as often as you think.
It’s not necessary to produce original content every day or every week. Instead, develop one high-value piece of content and find ways to expand or repurpose it into other formats. Initially, it will take some time and energy to create this key piece of content — however, you’ll be able to fill your editorial calendar for the next several weeks or months with minimal effort thereafter.
By “high value,” we mean content-heavy: think buyer’s guide, ebook, or magazine. Make sure it includes helpful points, research, and action steps to spin off as blog posts, tweets, pins, and more.
Consider what Bonobos, a leading online retailer for men’s fashion, is doing. The company releases seasonal guidebooks that are mailed out to customers, featuring editorial shots of their latest lines as well as lifestyle pieces and other informational content. These guidebooks not only act as a traditional direct mail catalog to showcase their newest collections, it also allows the company to generate other posts on multiple platforms.
The cover of Bonobos’ summer guidebook, catalog and content marketing all in one.
Inside, some content on fit for men’s blazers – it would make a great blog post!
Recycle, Reuse, Repurpose
Once you have your foundational content piece, you can break up and circulate all the pieces. This process will vary depending on your business and the content that you developed, however some ideas to do this include:
- Articles, blog posts: Use excerpts from the original content or expand on sections to produce full-length articles that can be published on your blog, or as guest posts or articles on other sites.
- Images: Post images from your original content on social media sites such as Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. Pull out quotes or tips and turn them into sharable images using services such as PicMonkey and Imgur.
- Infographics: Published any statistics or research? Create infographics out of the data to share on your blog and social media.
- Testimonials/expert reviews: If you interviewed customers or experts for your original content piece, use quotes and put them on your site, social media accounts, or even your product pages.
- Video: If the original piece of content has how-to or instructional parts, produce videos using them. Or if you have behind-the-scenes footage from your latest shoot, share them online.
By effectively repurposing the content from their seasonal guidebooks, Bonobos published multiple posts across several platforms.
Simple yet effective: Bonobos guidebook images repurposed as a board on Pinterest
However, just because you can reuse and distribute content across various sites and channels doesn’t mean you should try to hit everysite and channel. Remember that you want to be as efficient as possible, so only repurpose content for sites that your prospects use. For instance, if the data shows that you don’t have a lot potential customers on Instagram or Vine, then you shouldn’t waste time repurposing and posting content there. In contrast, if most of your content is made up of curated images and editorial-level photos, focus on channels that will showcase the visuals.
Refine and Repeat
Analyze the effectiveness of each piece of content that you repurpose and fine-tune the process based on the traffic, engagement, and conversions. Do certain channels or content types perform better than others? Refine your process accordingly.
Look for feedback that you can use. If someone asks a question in the comments, see if you can answer it in a separate article. Positive user feedback in one channel is a good indicator of what might be popular in other channels. If your ebook receives good reviews, for instance, then tweet excerpts of them to generate even more buzz – or tweet quotes from the reviews!
The guidebook has proven a good tactic for Bonobos as both a catalog and a source of content, and provides value for their customers as well as the company. At least one customer agrees with us: an eBay merchant is reselling their copy of the free guidebook. Now that’s some good content.